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Frequently Asked Questions From Current Students

Q: What is Screening and when do I do it?

A: Screening is when departmental faculty review a teacher education student's academic progress and determine whether or not the student may continue in the program. Students must apply for Screening by October 1 for fall semester Screening, or February 1 for spring semester Screening. For details regarding Screenings for undergraduates, see the current Vanderbilt Bulletin. For graduate students, see the Licensure for Teaching chapter in the Peabody College Catalog.

For undergraduates seeking licensure, there are two Screenings: (1) Screening I occurs late in the sophomore or early in the junior year, and (2) Screening II occurs the semester prior to student teaching.

Graduate students seeking licensure must complete only Screening II the semester prior to student teaching. (Admission to the M.Ed. program includes the Screening I process.)

Q: What is an electronic degree audit for undergraduates?

A: Prior to Fall 2007, Peabody undergraduate students were required to file a Program of Studies form, approved by their faculty adviser, during the second semester of the sophomore year. Beginning Fall 2007, the program of studies has been replaced by an electronic degree audit, which is automatically updated each semester to reflect which degree and licensure requirements have or have not been met. The faculty adviser and student should review the student’s electronic degree audit frequently, especially prior to registration for courses each semester. Instructions for accessing the electronic degree audit are included in the departmental handbook that each new undergraduate receives upon admission to Peabody. Completion of all courses, field work, and licensure requirements, as indicated by the degree audit, is necessary in order to gain eligibility for graduation with the Bachelor of Science degree and for departmental faculty recommendation for licensure.

Q: What are audit forms for graduate students seeking a teaching license?

A: Graduates students seeking licensure at the master’s level are working on two tracks simultaneously:

(1) Master’s degree track, which requires an electronic degree audit of how all DEGREE requirements will be met. This audit is found in your YES account and set up based on the program you are enrolled in. Prior to graduation with the M.Ed. degree, the degree audit will be checked by the Peabody Registrar to verify that all degree requirements have been met.

(2) Licensure track, which requires completion of audits that document how all LICENSURE requirements will be met and must be filed during the first two weeks in the program. To begin the audit process, each graduate student seeking initial licensure with the master’s degree should contact the Office of Teacher Licensure before the end of the first two weeks in the program to request an audit of his/her liberal arts background as it pertains to state and national standards for teacher preparation. The student will be informed about the findings of the audit and will be given instructions about finishing the audit process, which varies according to program. Completing the audit process within the first two weeks of the program provides the early opportunity to identify any exemptions that may be possible due to previous courses taken or other experience that could be considered in lieu of licensure requirements completed at Peabody. Prior to the licensure student’s graduation and eligibility for faculty recommendation for licensure, the audit forms will be checked for completion of all requirements in the Office of Teacher Licensure.

Q: What are PRAXIS tests? Do I need to take them? When should I take them?

A: Most states require that teachers pass PRAXIS exams before they can be licensed to teach. PRAXIS exams are given, just like the SAT or GRE, on national test dates across the country including here at Vanderbilt (proctored by the VU Psychological and Counseling Center). Each state determines which PRAXIS tests are required for a license in their state. For more information about which tests are required in Tennessee, see our PRAXIS exam section. Some of the PRAXIS exams are also available on computers at Prometrics centers.

It is very important for Vanderbilt teacher education graduates to pass the PRAXIS exams and be licensed in Tennessee, even if they do not plan to teach in Tennessee, in order to maintain maximum portability of licensure in other states. In some cases, even after many years of teaching in one state, a teacher moving to another state will be asked for proof of licensure in the state where initial teacher preparation was completed. It is also recommended that graduates consider obtaining a license in their home state.

Students may take PRAXIS exams whenever they choose. National test dates usually are in September, November, January, March, April, June and July. In addition, PRAXIS tests may be taken on computers at Prometrics centers by appointment during regular business hours. For details about testing schedules and registration, check the ETS Web site. Be sure to have an official score report sent to Vanderbilt University (code 1871) and the Tennessee Department of Education (code 8190).

Q: Which PRAXIS exams do I need to take for a Tennessee teaching license?

A: Every initial license applicant should pass one "Principles of Learning and Teaching" (PLT) test, which assesses basic knowledge of general pedagogy. There are four PLT test choices: Early Childhood [E.C.], K-6, 5-9, and 7-12. A PLT test is not required if the applicant is exempted by passing the TPA or if they are applying for a non-teaching license such as school counseling. In addition, one or more specialty tests are required, depending on the endorsement(s) being sought for the Tennessee teaching license. For current Tennessee testing requirements please visit the overview page regarding TN on the ETS website.

Q: How do I get my license? How long will it be before I receive it?

A: At the end of each fall or spring semester, there will be an exit meeting during the last week of student teaching. Forms and instructions will be given to students to complete and submit to the Director of Teacher Licensure. Assuming the faculty have recommended licensure for the student, the licensure recommendation will be sent to the Tennessee Department of Education by the Director of Teacher Licensure as soon as the final VU transcript reflecting degree conferral is available. Educators no longer receive a paper copy of the license, they will instead receive email notification and instructions on how to retrieve license information when the transaction is completed. The recommendation must include the state form, the official score report of PRAXIS exams, and official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended. Educators who wish to obtain a printer-friendly version of a license may use the public search option of the Educator Licensure Information page. (

Q: How long will my license be valid? How do I renew it?

A: In Tennessee, an initial teaching license, the Practitioner License, is valid for three years. The Practitioner License may be renewed once or the license may be advanced to the Professional License if advancement expectations are met. To advance a license educators must have three years of experience and the recommendation of the Director of Schools or documentation of 30 Professional Development Points. For more information check the Tennessee Department of Education Web site.

Q: How do I add endorsements to my TN license?

A: Endorsements can be added to a TN license in two ways: completion of an approved teacher preparation program in an endorsement area or by submitting qualifying scores on required content assessments. The test only option is based on the current endorsement you hold on your license. The document linked here provides specific information about endorsement flexibility and adding endorsements to a license. 

Q: How do I become licensed in other states?

A: View complete information on licensure in other states.